Tisket-a-Tasket Tiki Tacky
A child of the Sixties,
my family's celebration of Easter was hard-boiled in traditions. However, Peter Cottontail hopping down
our bunny trail and an egg scavenger hunt were not our basket case. That's not to
say my parents weren't warm and fuzzy. They just didn't walk on eggshells when it came to fostering a
belief in the Easter Bunny, though we never lacked for chocolate marshmallow and solid chocolate
bunnies. Ultimately, Easter was to dye for.
The week of, my
sister and I dip dyed hard-boiled eggs in various pastel hues. While we were out of our mother's
hair, my mom baked until the kitchen became a well-stocked pantry filled with our traditional desserts.
There were Italian rice pies rich with blended ingredients of eggs, ricotta cheese, whipped cream, rice, and
lemon pulp or crushed pineapples. There were round as well as "braided baby" Easter breads coated
with confectioner's sugar and rainbow sprinkles. My sister and I developed a perverse bond with those
babies and couldn't bear to cut slices into them so they ended up going stale.
Back in the Sixties, Easter Sunday was
a dress occasion for church. Mary Jane patent leather shoes and a matching purse complemented
our spring outfits. White gloves were not an option, but a stringent requirement. Add one
Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it and you could parade down any fashion runway.
Tsk, tsk, here's where
the Tiki tacky comes in. After late mass, my father treated us to a sumptuous meal at the Bocce Club, an
Italian stronghold in the predominantly French city of Woonsocket. Back then, the decor of the restaurant side of the banquet hall was
Tiki chic. Painted coconut heads decorated knotty pine walls. Apropos because we ate like
pagans, scooping from family style platters of shells followed by the tastiest roasted chicken and
golden French fries.
Weather permitting, my
father would take us to Roger Williams Park in Providence for an after dinner stroll. Back in the day when zoos weren't that
hygienic, the smell emanating from Fanny the elephant tinged the spring air. Still, I wouldn't trade my
family traditions or happy trails for the likes of Peter Cottontail.
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